The Matrix


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

The Matrix
"The kind of thing which, by calling itself science fiction, serves to put people off swathes of vastly more worthy material." | Photo: Warner Bros

I've seen a lot of very bad films during my career as a reviewer, but The Matrix is one of very few which has come close to putting me to sleep. It gives the impression of being put together from a casual reading of the Cyberpunk role-playing game, with a thoroughly hackneyed plot and a structure which involves interspersing fight sequences done better in a hundred Hong Kong martial arts flicks with overextended wannabe-Descartean rambling about the nature of reality. Why has it been so successful? So far as I can see, that's down to two things: the fact that most people want to like what they think everyone else likes, and black PVC. Turn on the football and buy yourself a binliner - you'll have more fun.

To its credit, The Matrix is well cast, and it's refreshing to see a heroine who really looks like she can handle herself. Keanu Reeves is adequate as the hero, with no great thespian feats required. The Wachowskis bring a strong (albeit stolen) aesthetic to the film, but sometimes this works against them - the archetypal neatness of the characters denies them to charismatic appeal of their far eastern predecessors.

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The film really falls down when it tries to be clever. It's the kind of thing which, by calling itself science fiction, serves to put people off swathes of vastly more worthy material. Its Bosch-like imagery of 'tree'-filled fields, which also bears a marked resemblance to some of Giger's Landscape paintings, is undoubtedly nice to look at, but it's rendered ridiculous by what are not so much plot holes as gaping plot voids big enough to drive a mainframe through. It substitutes pseudoscience for reason and mysticism for philosophy, and anyone who actually knows anything about either will just find it an embarrassment.

Suffice to say that the image of computers running their economy by hanging out one another's washing will live with me for a long time.

Reviewed on: 16 Jun 2008
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The Matrix packshot
Visually dazzling sci-fi thriller. Re-released in 4K restoration.
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Read more The Matrix reviews:

Angus Wolfe Murray *****
Stephen Carty *****

Director: Lilly Wachowski, Lana Wachowski

Writer: Lilly Wachowski, Lana Wachowski

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, Gloria Foster, Joe Pantoliano, Marcus Chong, Julian Arahanga, Matt Doran, Belinda McClory, Anthony Ray Parker

Year: 1999

Runtime: 93 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: USA

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